Mannin: UN Rights Reporting Government Response

The Isle of Man Government has responded to queries from the Celtic League about the procedures it adopts when reporting to United Nations Rights bodies.

The Manx Government has in the past been criticised for failing to adequately disseminate information about its International obligations within civil society on the Island and also its failure to involve NGOs in the process has provoked concern.

In their reply to the League highlight their obligation to comply with international law however, somewhat contradictory, they say that it is not uncommon to disagree with the comments of UN Committee’s (they cite the Committee on the Rights of the Child as an example).

However the Chief Secretary’s Office (CSO) indicates that more information on UN reporting will be included on-line when the CSO website is redeveloped.

The full text of the governments’ position is set out below:

“Our reference : 018.6 – MW/AS
Your reference: United Nations – Human Rights Reporting – Conduits for
Communication

9 April 2010

Mr J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League
11 Clely Rhennee
Kirk Michael
Isle of Man
1M6 1HT

Dear Mr Moffatt

Thank you for your letter of 13 February 2010 concerning United Nationshuman rights reporting.

The Isle of Man Government is aware that certain obligations flow from the extension of the UK’s ratification of UN human rights conventions to the Island. One of those obligations is to contribute to the State Party’s reports (i.e. the
UK’s reports) on the implementation of those conventions.

Where it is appropriate the Isle of Man Government is committed to consultation, including with NGOs, on new legislation and polices. In the specific case of children’s issues there has been a very detailed examination in recent years with considerable consultation and debate. The outcome of this examination is the draft Children’s Bill and the planned changes to Departmental responsibility for children’s issues.

In the reporting process on United Nations, Council of Europe and other international conventions the Isle of Man Government does not accept that there is a prerequisite for it to discuss its proposed submission to the Committee
with NGOs in advance. However, in preparing its submission the Government will consult with those persons and bodies, and in such a manner, as it considers appropriate in the particular circumstances. Where a monitoring Committee visits the Island it may well wish to meet interested NGOs and the Government would encourage it to do so that the Committee obtains the full range of information and views, both from within Government and from those outside Government.

Notwithstanding the comments from the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2000, the Isle of Man Government does not consider that it is necessary to establish specific conduits of communication with NGOs for human rights
reporting as proposed by the Celtic League. The Isle of Man Government does not consider that it has an obligation under either the UN Convention on the Rights or the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Prevention of Torture to establish such a mechanism.

Whilst countries to which UN conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC), apply are obliged under international law to comply with the provisions of the convention, it is not uncommon for those countries to dispute or disagree with the comments from the Committee which monitors the convention. It is well known, for example, that for a number of years the Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from its current level of 10 years in England but the UK Government has
no plans to agree to this request.

In relation to access to reports on UN conventions the information provided by the Isle of Man Government can be found in the UK’s reports which are published on the website of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, the Chief Secretary’s Office website is currently in the process of being redeveloped and it is intended information such as reports on conventions will in future be included on the External Relations pages.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs M Williams
Chief Secretary”

The text of the earler query to the Manx Government can be found here:

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3246

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

14/04/10

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